Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens face yet another must-win game at home against the New England Patriots. In order to stay in the 6th and final seed in the AFC playoff chase, the Ravens would be better off coming out with a victory. If not, the Miami Dolphins are right on their tail and could surpass them with a win of their own.
For the Ravens to come out on top, one of the top priorities must be to establish a running game. I know, this has been a key for Baltimore all season long but they have never been able to get it done consistently. Due to their inability to run block, the Ravens rank a mere 29th in the league in rushing and have averaged just 82.9 yards per game on the ground.
Make no mistake about it, the Ravens’ offensive line is at fault for this year-long struggle. Ray Rice, when healthy, is one of the premier backs in this league. But, without any blocking, not even the best of them have a chance to bust loose.
Against the Patriots on Sunday, Rice has a chance to reverse the trend. New England ranks second to last in the league against the run and is giving up over 132 yards per game on the ground. The Ravens must take advantage of this.
Many times this year, Baltimore has not even given Rice the chance to establish himself. He gets a couple of carries here and there at times, but it seems like for the most part the Ravens don’t even stay committed to the run. Instead, Joe Flacco is asked to throw it many more times than he should.
Up against a weak front four — against the run, at least — Rice has to be given the chance to get going, even if it takes a little bit. If he can make it known that he’ll be breaking loose in this one, that opens things up much more for Flacco in the passing game. I think Rice will be able to have himself a nice game if Baltimore just gives him the chance — oh, and they’ll get the win while they’re at it.